Opera and Abandonment: A Personal Dreaming Interpretation

Though I am fully committed to dreaming intepretation, I don’t process every dream that I have.  I usually know intuitively which dreams to work with and which to let float back into the ethers.  The dream I’m going to share with you today was not necessarily one that felt important when I first awoke.  However that evening, when I looked back on my day, I remembered the dream once again.  What seemed unimportant in the morning, was clearly preparing me for the events of the day in a very powerful way.

First, the dream:

I was with my entire family (mother, father, sister and brother) at a restaurant and we ordered dinner.  After ordering, everyone left for one reason or another, leaving me alone.  Two hours went by and my family didn’t return and the food never came.  I was feeling very abandoned and quite upset.  Suddenly, I found myself at the opera, looking desperately for my family as I did not have my ticket and didn’t know where our seats were.  At a certain moment I discovered that not only was I at the opera, I was IN the opera and had just two hours to learn how to maneuver a very complicated set with many staircases and platforms in a costume that was very difficult to walk in.  Oh yes, the costume was a dress, a very intricate ball gown that was iridescent blue.

Second, the background:

If you’ve been reading my blog, you probably know that my brother died suddenly this past winter.  In the process of grieving, one thing that seems to be happening is a reevaluation of my role both as a man but also as a part of a sibling unit that was three and is now two.  Who I am today as a function of who I was in my family unit has reached a whole new level

My sister and I have always been close.  She, in turn, was also close with my brother.  With him gone, it feels more important than ever that we maintain the intimacy of our relationship as we move into the territory of the idea that one day we will be mourning the loss of our mother and become orphans at long last.  So when she announced to me one day a few weeks ago that there was something she needed to talk to me about and that she needed to get some distance from what had sparked her discomfort, I was a bit nervous.  I didn’t know what it was that I had done that upset her, but experience told me that just because there was nothing in my version of things that might have been inappropriate or hurtful, that didn’t necessarily mean I hadn’t actually done or said something that I would have to take responsibility for.

Third, the day and the conversation:

The talk my sister and I had couldn’t have gone any better.  She approached me with her truth in tact, but with a strong sense of presenting herself (to the best of her ability) without offence.  I received her with openness, space and (to the best of my ability) without defense.

Fourth, how the dream played into my day:

Since I knew I was going to be having a potentially confronting conversation with my sister the next day, my unconscious kicked into high gear and was helping me process a number of feelings.  The two themes that emerge from the dream tell the story-behind-the-story.  The first of which is abandonment.

I’m with my entire family of origin, so we are looking at my sense of self as it pertains to the first construct through which I experienced myself.  All my perceptions about love and needs being met are going to come up when I my unconscious is using this symbol to self express.  And in the dream, I am both abandoned by the family (feeling of isolation and aloneness) and unable to get my food (access to nurturance and sustenance).  Clearly, if my brother is gone because he has passed away and my sister is mad at me, my fears are going to be telling me I am alone and unfed.

The second theme is a little more complicated to discover, but ultimately just as clear.  The opera has a generational connection to my family, as we have been going to the Met in New York City for three generations.  It is also where our last family outing was held as a celebration of my mother’s seventy-fifth birthday; we all went to the opera and dinner two days before my brother’s unexpected death.  The day was an absolute blast and has provided for us all a beautiful memory with which to associate our last experience with David alive.  In the dream-scape, that I was at the opera and still separated from my family might suggest that I was expressing fears that I was cut off from the happy elements of my family.  In the dream, I am desperately seeking connection, only to be thwarted.

So the plot twist is now I’m not only AT the opera, I am IN the opera.  And I have to maneuver a very complicated set complete with many levels and stairways.  Could it be that this image is reflecting the anxiety I had about the pending conversation with Kathy?  Why not?  Opera is communication on a large scale.  So was the talk we were about to have.  The complex and various levels on the set might be representing the potential awkwardness of a delicate conversation the topic of which was still a mystery to me.

Now the dress.  When I told the dream to my sister, she laughed and asked me if I was having some gender identity crisis.  And of course, I am not.  However, there is a wonderful parallel to this image and the notion of approaching a conversation with responsiveness rather than reactivity.  To be willing to hear my sister out, to listen openly and willingly to anything she had to express without interrupting or making excuses or justifying myself would be the height of the feminine principle in action.  Masculine approach to conversation takes over.  Feminine approach to conversation allows.  And the color blue (remember, the fabulous gown was bright blue) is the color of the throat charka and connects to issues of communication.  My traversing the set several hours before the performance in order to be as graceful as possible was my psyche’s way of mentally and emotionally preparing myself for whatever my sister wanted to discuss with me.

Fifth, the wrap-up:

While I didn’t wake up from this dream feeling that I had to interpret it immediately, I did remember it vividly.  It wasn’t until the end of the day as I was reflecting on the events and how they unfolded that I made the associations that I have shared with you today.  If I can leave you with anything it is to appreciate that the work being done on an unconscious level by your dreams is happening whether you attend to it or not.  We are wiser today than we were yesterday and I believe with all of my heart that it is in dreams that this incredible process unfolds.

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